Online marketing for beginners – some basic notions

Online marketing for beginners – some basic notions

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Anyone who uses the internet for commercial, educational, informative or persuasive purposes should know one or two things about online marketing. If you’re here, you’re probably wondering – why? Why is it so important to know these things if you’re an entrepreneur or a CEO or a journalist, not an advertiser or marketer?

The truth is that not knowing online marketing in a digital age is like having the best speech in the world, the biggest audience before your eyes but no microphone, therefore no chance to be heard and listened.

In this article, I’m about to present some basic notions that I hope you’ll find useful, so that you’ll get your online marketing 101 without the added headaches and frustration. Which is why, I tried to avoid the overly technical, as well as that annoying Romglish mix (Romanian+English – my natives know what I mean, we’ll leave that for the next articles. :D)

I want you to give something valuable to take home out of all the info I’m about to present, regardless of the field you’re in – financial, medical, educational and, of course, not get mad at me for wasting your time. Without further ado, let’s begin....

All you need to know if you’re new to online marketing

There are a bunch of marketing definitions on the internet and in published literature, each more complicated and intricate than the previous one. I’m going to bring forward the most simple and accessible one I know, it’s one that I’ve kept in mind since college and that’s Kotler’s definition. This guy said it briefly and as straightforward as possible – marketing is the art and science of selling.

Therefore, we can deduce that online marketing is the art and science of selling online. More than that, online marketing involves a mix of techniques and strategies aiming to promote businesses, services, goods and generally making yourself heard in the digital environment and in the hearts and minds of your target audience.

Basically, all the efforts that you’re channeling towards communicating your offer and attracting people, whose endgoals are either education, persuasion, increasing notoriety or sales can be classified as online marketing efforts, if you use digital means, of course.

What you need to remember is that online marketing can be split into two important categories:

  • Organic (also known as SEO or Search Engine Optimization) – it doesn’t involve investing a sum of money, it’s more of a long-term strategy aiming to attract the target audience „naturally”. Basically, you find out what your clients are looking for and answer that pressing need they have with your product/service. SEO means using keywords (the common words we all use daily when searching for stuff on Google or Bing) to improve the position/ranking of your business in search engine results. Another accessible and truly valuable SEO tactic that you can use for organic promotion is creating relevant content in general – informative blog posts, guides, e-books etc.
  • Paid (Search Engine Marketing) – it involves a budget and investment in keywords (essentially buying ad space in paid/sponsored Google search results), targeting and „out-bidding” the competition who is targeting the same words. For example, your company sells donuts. You pick the keyword „chocolate donuts”. You have to bid more than your competition who sells the same product in order to gain a better position in the paid Google search results and thus have a greater chance of being found/seen by your customers

How do we differentiate organic search results from paid search results? Well, if you search for anything on Google (e.g. – laptops in Brașov), the first results that you’ll see in the top half usually have the word ad written before the link. These are sponsored ads.

The others in the bottom half are organic search results.

Now, depending on the channel you’re using, there are a bunch of online marketing types (I’m only going to name the most important/relevant ones, to my mind):

#1 Video Marketing

This is a type of online marketing that uses audiovisual means for communication/promotion purposes. The most popular example of video marketing is vlogging but video explainers created by companies pretty much fit the same category (those short, introductory clips that stretch between 1-2 minutes that communicate the company’s offer in a persuasive manner, you can usually find them on the company’s homepage). Most video content on web pages can also be added here.

Video content helps tremendously, especially when trying to build a personal brand or differentiate our commercial brand from that of the competition. Good video content stands out through originality and manages to deliver a marketing message quickly and in an attractive fashion in order to draw the attention of anyone visiting that specific webpage. All is done in a matter of seconds – the fewer, the better.

Video marketing is starting to catch on a lot in 2018, which is why, if you’re a blogger or if you own a business and you’re not afraid of the spotlight, so to say, you could reap some serious benefits if you include presentation/sales clips in your strategy.

#2 Social Media Marketing (organic and paid)

When we talk about social media marketing, what we mean is the use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for connecting with a target audience, building a relationship with it and creating a community around our services/products.

The organic side of social media pertains to all our free posts on these platforms (status updates, for example). In order to write an organic post, all we need to do is register on that specific platform.

The paid side of social media involves an investment on our part in order to make an organic post or ad reach a specific audience, it involves targeting and a fixed budget.

The most common example of paid promotion via social media is Facebook Ads.

#3 Content marketing

It is a type of marketing focused on content, as you’ve already guessed. By content we don’t just mean text, but also video and audio. Basically we’re referring to a marketing strategy focused on creating and sharing valuable content to gain the loyalty and trust of an existing customer base or to attract new customers.

Content marketing is a long-term strategy and a very valuable one for building steady relationships and partnerships with clients, it encourages interaction, making reactions public and people’s overall active participation.

#4 E-mail marketing

If you’re reading this article, you’re certainly signed up to at least one newsletter. Or, in a worst case scenario, you’ve received at least one unsolicited commercial offer from a retailer on your e-mail account. E-mail marketing can be a very useful part of an individual or a legal entity’s strategy but it can become irritating if it’s not executed properly.

E-mail marketing involves sending out newsletters to clients, usually after they’ve given their consent to receive updates from you.

Many companies get it so wrong when it comes to e-mail marketing because they don’t know how to structure their opening line or overall content to make the receiving party want to open that mail and read on.

Remember that, in e-mail marketing, it is crucial to offer clients something valuable, a tangible benefit (an information, a discount), something to make them read on, click on that redirect link to your product page or even place an order.

So...why do I need online marketing again?

You can think of the internet as this giant shopping mall where everyone’s selling something.

Online marketing is what makes you differentiate your offer from that of similar stores selling the same goods as you, is what makes you attract customers and gain their loyalty. If you remembered the analogy from the start of this article, without online marketing, you’re nothing but a person with a good product or service standing in front of a big audience who cannot make himself heard without a microphone, who gets lost in the crowd.

Don’t forget that, regardless of the channel chosen for promotion, when doing online marketing, you must have a strategy – you have to think about what you’re selling, how you want to sell it and when. Once you’ve set your goals, it’ll be much easier to draw in interested parties, understand how they think and how you can swing them towards your business and keep them from running to the competition.

That’s it for this article, but I’ll definitely return with more in-depth information on online marketing in future pieces. If you have any questions or if anything’s not quite clear, as always, don’t hesitate to drop a comment down below!

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